Does anyone remember the time in late 2006, when all the politicians in Wales started talking in a strange language, using a mixture of words like Tir Mynnydd, Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Cymru, Modulation, Environmental enhancement, Rural Develop Plan etc. It was great for me because I understood the code. Discussing this outside of the relevant Assembly Committee (which I chaired) was a bit like speaking Welsh in a Barbados bar. The hoohah, almost brought the Assembly Government down. Well, things have just moved on.
The fuss was about the then Minister, Carwyn Jones wanting to move money away from an upland farmer support scheme (Tir Mynnydd) to agri-environment schemes (Tir Gofal and Tir Cynnal). The former included all upland farmers, while the latter included only those who had been accepted into the special schemes, it was a case of taking money from the many to give to the few. Opposition parties wouldn't have it, defeated the Government and forced the Minsiter to put the budget set aside for Tir Mynnydd back up to £29 million, from the £22 million that he wanted it to be. In addition, we were warned by the Minister and his officials that the European Commission would not accept the overall Rural Development Plan which included all these changes. We were assured that we were misguided and irresponsible, and that Wales' RDP would be rejected. Well, its just been accepted - so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it Carwyn.
One other noteworthy point here. The Commission has decreed that £3.5 million of the £29 million has to go to a specific element of Tir Mynnydd, or what has been referred to as an 'environmental enhancement'. One of the questions that opposition parties had pressed the Minister on in 2006 was why he had scrapped these the year before the row over the budget. Well opposition parties were right again. The one thing that grieves me about this is that its the EU which has insisted on this change - and what really grates is that I agree with it! Anyway, the plan has been approved. I should declare my second pecuniary interest of the evening - because this too is rather good news for the personal budget of yours truly!